Environmental influences are something most people understand on a fundamental level. Many variables within your surroundings shape your personality, attitude, and emotional response to certain situations. Such influences also have a connection with your substance use. Research shows that environmental factors can contribute to developing an addiction. Taking time to learn what role your environment plays in your addiction can, in turn, help you determine what impact it can have on your recovery. Your relationships and surroundings all feed into your ability to maintain recovery successfully. Let’s take a closer look into how you can examine your environment and the various ways in which you can improve your surroundings to ensure you are putting your recovery needs first.
Trauma stemming from childhood is one of the leading causes for developing a substance use disorder (SUD). These traumas include abuse, feelings of neglect, dysfunction, and overall adverse childhood experiences. When these experiences shape your childhood, they have a profound impact on your neurodevelopment. As a result, this could stunt or delay emotional development and even create unhealthy coping mechanisms. As you transition into adulthood, if you do not address your trauma, you will likely experience and relive the emotional trauma from your past. You might also use substances to help you cope with the emotions you are experiencing.
While you can’t change the past, creating a comfortable and secure environment can help you open up and confront your trauma. Seeking therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or practicing mindfulness (on your own or guided by a professional) can help you understand that, while you can’t change the past, you can cultivate a healing environment today.
Both family and friend relationships can be a significant source of stress. Reconnecting with friends and family can be especially difficult in early recovery. Examples include:
- Attending a family gathering where drinking is present
- Family and friends asking you questions about your recovery
- Family and friends pressuring you to drink or asking why you’re not drinking.
Such environments can be very uncomfortable and you may even feel judged. However, connecting with the family and friends you can trust to support you or going to family counseling is the start of repairing communication between you and others. Working on ways to create a positive support network is a significant asset for your recovery. Being in the presence of supportive friends, family and peers can provide a safe space where you can ask for help. Strong support networks also create an environment that fosters encouragement, motivation, and accountability. You might not be able to repair every relationship with friends and family, but it’s essential to keep moving forward.
The connection between work and stress is not new. According to several studies, the majority of U.S. workers report experiencing stress. Since stress is often the source of powerful triggers for relapse, the wrong work environment can make it harder for you to maintain sobriety. It can also be hard to function socially in a work environment where drug and alcohol use might be prevalent, thus making it harder to turn down invitations for work-related social gatherings.
Additionally, you might not be able to switch your job or career as quickly as you would like. However, being aware of the stressors and rates of substance use in your work environment can help you better prepare to keep your guard against certain people and triggers. It is also essential to know your rights in the workplace and see if your job or career offers any guidelines or support within your work environment for addressing mental health and substance use issues.
While social media, and the internet in general, are powerful tools, they can also become serious pitfalls. Spending too much time online is not only harmful to your physical health, but it can perpetuate other forms of addiction disorders such as gambling and shopping. A primary criticism of social media is that most people tend to share only the highlights from their day and life. These unrealistic representations of other people’s lives can make you feel like you are not doing enough or are somehow a failure in comparison. Or, they can be about the worst part of the day, and this negativity can be just as damaging for your emotions. Taking social media at face value can deteriorate self-esteem and create feelings of shame and inadequacy. However, when you use social media judiciously to attend online therapy or group meetings to connect with other peers from recovery, you create a healthier environment that is conducive to your recovery.
There are many ways that your environment can influence your decisions regarding recovery, negatively or positively. If you find that your environment is feeding negative thoughts and behaviors, the time to get help is now. At Choice House, we work with men to help them connect and share their experiences with other men. Our approach to care helps men feel more comfortable opening up and, therefore, more motivated to create better environments to help manage emotions. We also incorporate the Rocky Mountains into our therapy programs to help individuals wholly connect with themselves and nature to restore the relationships within themselves and with others. In addition to group therapy, we provide family and individual therapy. Our goal is to help men feel as secure as possible when opening up. With 24/7 admissions, your recovery adventure can start at any point. Find out more and call us at Choice House today at (720) 577-4422.